Tuesday, March 29, 2011


by Nat S.
On the 7th day following the March 11, 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami that devastated the Tohoku region of Japan, the Seattle Buddhist Temple conducted a memorial service for those who perished in that disaster.

Further, a memorial service will be held at 5:30 pm every Friday through April 29, which will mark the 49th day of observance, the traditional Japanese period of mourning. The temple is located at 1427 South Main St. in Seattle.

Bonsho,  Seattle Buddhist Temple
Upon our arrival for the first of these weekly memorial services, we walked toward the big temple bell (bonsho) located outside, as the public was invited to ring the bonsho in memory of the disaster victims.

From information provided by the temple in a press release, I’d learned that in “pre-modern rural Japan, temple bells were rung repeatedly as a tsunami warning“.  I reflected upon how short the time was to respond to a tsunami warning in either old or modern Japan.

It was late afternoon, and the gray light of a rainy day was dwindling.  One at a time, each person bowed with hands clasped, placed a pinch of incense onto charcoal that was burning in a small urn, and bowed a second time before approaching the suspended timber used to strike the bonsho.  Upon contact with the heavy timber, the thick walls of the metal bell vibrated, giving rise to a richly resonant tone.

Just inside the entrance of the temple, we stopped to sign a long scroll of paper that lay upon a table.  It will be sent to Japan.  The bell’s deep voice could be heard in the distance as each person who arrived rang it.  I imagined the sound traveling all the way to Japan, connecting us to the victims for whom we all felt sorrow, and to the survivors for whom we all felt concern.

About 200 of us in all gathered in the pews of the temple sanctuary (hondo). When the service was about to begin, the great bell outside tolled several times, and a higher pitched bell inside the temple was rung in reply.

First, a pair of Tibetan Buddhist monks from a local temple offered chants. Then ministers of the Seattle Buddhist Temple* (which is Shin Buddhist) led ancient chants in Japanese, English and Pali.  This was followed by the epistle on the “The White Ashes” in Japanese and English about impermanence.  The 30-minute service ended with Rinban (Chief Priest) Don Castro also giving a Dharma talk in English on compassion.

Afterward, a line formed to offer incense again, this time at urns located near the large, elaborate altar at the front.  Offering incense is an act of purity.  At my turn, I approached one of the urns and bowed. While offering the incense and bowing afterward, time seemed to slow.  The moment opened to a sense of connection to victims and survivors, and to a feeling of gratitude for the memorial service.
Nat S.

* Seattle Buddhist Temple is a member of the Buddhist Churches of America, a religious organization of American Shin Buddhists. Further information is available at their website or by calling (206) 329-0800.

Port of Seattle Candlelight Service for Japan

What:            Port of Seattle Candlelight Service for Japan
When:          Thursday, March 31, 2011, 7:30 p.m
Where:         Fishermen's Terminal, 3919  19th Avenue West, Seattle 98119  •  Covered plaza area near Chinook's Restaurant and Fishermen's Memorial
The Port of Seattle will hold a candlelight service to remember the victims of the earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan, and to support the Japanese people, especially those in Miyagi Prefecture home of the fishing ports of Shiogama, Ishinomaki and Kesennuma where we have long-time friends through our friendship port relationship established in 1990.  Members from the local fishing, Japanese and Port community will speak during the service. Candles will be distributed at the service.  Free parking is available at Fishermen's Terminal, follow the event parking signs.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Special concert at Nordstrom Hall & classes at Tateuchi Room

by aleks
• There will be a special concert on April 15th at Nordstrom Recital Hall in Benaroya Hall: audio-visual presentation of Asian immigration; Japanese Garden pictures will be shown as part of the presentation.

NW Sinfonietta presents  Pictures and Exhibition
A unique multi-media presentation in collaboration with Seattle Asian Community
Friday, April 15, 7:30 pm
Nordstrom Hall at Benaroya Hall Seattle
Debussy's Prélude à l'aprés-midi d'un faune
Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue - Joel Fan, pianist
Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, arranged by Julian Yu
Christophe Chagnard, conductor
Andrea Nakano, host

Tickets: $19-$29, nwsinfonietta.org - 866.833.4747


New Arts Programs to be held at the Japanese Garden! Registration is now open for several arts programs at the Seattle Japanese Garden.  All classes will be held in the Tateuchi Community Room and will begin in April.  These programs are offered through Seattle Parks and Recreation Lifelong Recreation and the Seattle Japanese Garden.  A brief description of each class follows.  For more information on these programs, or to register, call Cheryl Brown at 386-9106.

Introduction to Ikebana   $15
One of four different ‘ikebana’ styles will be taught in each of these classes, each running from 10 - 12 :
Senke Seishin School - Wednesday, April 20, #69484
Ikenobo School - Wednesday, April 27, #69931
Sogetsu School - Saturday, April 23, #69485
Ohara School - Saturday, April 30, #69932

Japanese Calligraphy $55
Taught by Midori Kono Thiel.  Learn basic calligraphy strokes using nature oriented characters drawing inspiration from the garden.
Thursdays, April 7 – 28 12:30 – 2:30 pm        #69486

Sumi-e Painting $55
Taught by Midori Kono Thiel.  Traditional Japanese painting done with black ink and a soft brush focusing on the nature around us as inspiration.
Thursdays, April 7 – 28 10:00 am – 12 noon        #69474

Block Printing Workshop $55
Taught by Susan Waite.  Create prints of flora inspired by the botanica in the garden.
Tuesdays, May 3 – 24 10:30 – 12:30        #69487

Watercolor $70
Instructor Jan Morris.  Explore the beauty of the garden in watercolor focusing on trees, leaves and bark in the garden.
Wednesdays, May 4 – June 8 3:00 – 5:00 pm #69479

Introduction to Haiku $35
Taught by Michael Dylan Welch.  Explore the myths and realities of Haiku poetry, including techniques such as kigo (season words), kireji (cutting words), shasei (objectivity), and more.
Mondays, April 11 – 25 6 – 7 pm                           #70367
Seattle Parks and Recreation class listing here  (they sometimes appear mixed with other classes - you may have to click 'Return to Activity Search', then choose 'Japanese Garden' location to isolate classes in Tateuchi Room - that  page doesn't seem to be designed to stand alone for  link from here).
I'll post links to these projects under 'Garden Events' soon... aleks

Monday, March 21, 2011

Anonymous notes from the KOI lecture

by aleks
SJG - koi - 2/13/11
Last saturday our Continuing Educational Committee produced another successful lecture, this time addressing previously immensely popular subject of koi.  The Tateuchi Room was packed and the speaker -Chris Charbonneau - engaging, stimulating  and very well received; I heard that through the grapevine,  because unfortunately, wasn't able to attend.   Thinking Koi a perfect blog-subject I still didn't want to miss the opportunity of sharing koi-facts with the world, so below are the notes of one of the attendees, who kindly shared with permission to edit them as I see it fit and post the result as Anonymous.   I found the read very fascinating and engrossing, so instead of fumbling with it and producing fictitious meta-notes,  here they are, unedited:

by that well known author, Anon
On Koi  - Chris Charbonneau, immediate past president, Washington Koi and Water Garden Society, March 19, 2011, Tateuchi Room, Seattle Japanese Garden

SJG - koi - 2/13/11
Annual Koi Show:  September 9-11, 2011 at Bellevue College

Origin:  Koi are river carp Indonesian rice farmers introduced into their paddies to provide themselves with protein.  Over time, they noticed some had red or yellow spots on their stomachs and set them aside.  Thus began the breeding of koi, which are mutants of river carp NOT related to goldfish.  Out of 1M eggs, only 1,000 might hatch as koi (colored) and 100 or fewer qualified to be raised as the koi we see in ponds.   Raising of koi skyrocketed after WWII as Japan became more prosperous.

Habits:   When they mate (sort of) the males fling the weight of their bodies at the females, sometimes even sending the latter onto the banks.  This dislodges the eggs, which are then on their own to eat and forage from minute one.  (Males and females make no other contact.)

Koi may eat their own eggs, but rarely when they reach a later stage.

Their survival depends on the quality of the water, especially PH balance (don’t ask) and temperature.  They prefer a water temperature of around 70 to 77 degrees, but survive at 40 degrees.  Water temperature change tends to induce spawning. 

They feed while upright on their tails and therefore need deep water.  They are transported to koi shows   in large, deep water-filled containers in which the koi  are positioned sideways to prevent them from breaking their noses against ends of the containers.

FAQ:   Koi can reach 1 meter in length and live to around 40 years. Chris discounted longer estimates such as 226 years as reported on Wikipedia. Because a koi resists being out of the water, weight is often difficult to determine.  (One prize-winning koi was dropped during a weighing attempt and died as a consequence.)  

Females grow bigger than males and win the large koi beauty contests; males win the small beauty contests.  Prizes are awarded on criteria that include symmetry of color markings and scales, density of color.

Slides:   Chris showed a number of colorful slides showing different koi kinds (each with a Japanese name).  Most treasured are the red and white, especially a white one with a red circle on its head (think flag of Japan).   Others included koi without scales, another with long fins, and a third with metallic skin.

Uh, oh, the notes made me realize another lie I have been spreading as a docent:  for years I've been telling unsuspecting audience that koi live much longer than 40 years, giving them a life span of 80-100 years. I got that info off the internet (just cursory checked, and the internet is still at it -  'The average lifespan is around 60 years if proper care is given. Some can live even longer, the world record Koi lived to be 226 years old' - that is from wikianswers.com, but i've seen it elsewhere).  Oh, well, I very much enjoyed beating teenagers over the head with the 'fact' that the koi will probably be here, in the pond, long after they themselves are gone, to make the youngsters relate to the time passage...    Drat, gotta find another hammer:(.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Upcoming: Koi lecture & U86 spring meeting

by aleks
Just a reminder regarding next two Saturdays:

 Inside story of koi, garden stars
Sat, March 19, 10:30am – 12:00pm at SJG Tateuchi Room 
Our Continuing Education Committee presents a lecture by Chris Charbonneau, president of the Washington Koi and Water Garden Society

• UNIT 86 Spring MTG
Sat, March 26, 10am – 12pm at AF Meeting Room at the Graham Visitors Center (not, not, NOT Tateuchi Room). Your chance to meet your fellow guides and participate in our group's decisions.  Reminder to self (and maybe you, too):  bring my $10 dues.

Here is probably a good place and time to alert those of you who don't venture outside of the main page:  this blog now has a CALENDAR of Garden events, Continuing Ed. meetings and Unit 86 meetings. Too see it, click on U86Cal (next to the 'Home' button on the top of the page) -  I thought it nifty short for Unit 86 Calendar, but if confusing, I can rename it as just  'Calendar', so let me know.  Also, please email me (or leave a comment), if you want add something to the calendar....

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Quake moved Japan coast 8 feet, shifted Earth's axis

by aleks

3/15 • Relief efforts  (click on the names to get the info):
1.) Verizon: Free Calls to Japan From March 11 to April 10  
2.) City of Seattle page with info on how to help with relief efforts
3.) Japanese Community launched SeattleJapanRelief.org to support earthquake/tsunami relief
4.)  This is via our guide Naoko:  Art Sale to Benefit Relief Efforts in Japan at KOBO at Higo 
Saturday, March 26, 12-8 pm
Sunday, March 27, 12-5pm 
A number of artists with connections to Japan will be donating work to be exchanged for donations that will go directly to relief efforts helping those affected by the Japan earthquake and tsunami.  100% of the proceeds will go to several relief organizations.
5.) Uwajimaya is accepting donations in all stores for Peace Winds America to support relief effort in Japan - Uwajimaya will MATCH contributions up to $5000.  Peace Winds America's mission is reducing the high human, economical and political cost of natural disasters in the Asia Pacific.

I read those astounding facts, look at the pictures and videos, listen to nuclear experts but can hardly comprehend because of sadness in seeing this terrible harm done to such a beautiful place on our planet: earthquake, then tsunami, now nuclear worries.

Take care, Japan and all beings that call you home.

Found this on the blog of Dr. Gabi Greve, she is in Okayama Prefecture, Japan (clicking on Gabi's name will take you to her  blog):


. BIG . earthquake


earthquake night -
the stars are as silent
as ever

I just stepped out to say good night to the world ...

Shocks & after-shocks...

Below the image Nat S. referred to in her comment below this post - Otsuchi Village, Iwate Prefecture:

Out of the many, many images I've seen of this enornous disaster, this one reminded me that higher consciousness, essential nature, or, one might call it pure potentiality, can never be  destroyed.  Nat S.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Scene From the Flower and Garden Show...

by Monzie
A  three-hour shift as docent Saturday for The Japanese Garden-Bridging History display at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show was a great way to see reactions to a Japanese Garden.

The gold award-winning display, celebrating the Seattle Japanese Garden's 50th anniversary last year, was presented by the Arboretum Foundation in association with its partners the Washington Park Arboretum, Seattle Parks and Recreation and University of Washington Botanic Gardens.  Congratulations to designers Roger Williams, Phil Wood and Bob Lilly!
Cherry tree blossomed on cue - Photo by Monzie 2/26/11

More than 200 visitors passed by my end of the exhibit - judging by the number of trips made to pick up more of the display's brochures to hand out.  The pamphlet had an excellent plant list, which was eagerly received by visitors and gratefully by me.
Mondo grass doubled for water - Photo by Monzie 2/26/11

Here's a take on reactions.

First, long pauses as eyes swept the beautifully lighted display from entrance gate, past cherry trees, the crooked bridge and then to the viewing platform (or vice versa, naturally).

Much action ensued with cameras, especially views capturing the garden's length through the entrance gate, and shots through branches of the cherry trees.

Then noses detected a heavy scent.  Where was the fragrance coming from?  They sniffed the cherry blossoms.  No.  Not there.

They bent  to check the sarcoccocca beneath the cherry trees.  Not there either.

Moving ahead in the search, "ahh!" exclamations rang out with discovery of two Daphne odora at the torri gate. Mystery solved!  (Nurseries may expect a run on Daphne odora.)
Eye catching deer-catcher (look for the low bamboo gizmo to the left of the lantern) - Photo by Monzie 2/26/11

The bamboo deer catcher, with its water funnel rhythmically rising and falling- all the while making clacks on a stone to chase away any deer - was an immediate attraction to children.

Rippling mondo grass, substituting for water under the bridge, was a center of adult attention - perhaps mowers of lawns in particular.  Is it difficult to grow?  What about water? Does it prefer sun or shade? Can one walk on it?

But the first, long, appreciative pauses may reflect best on the garden's design.